My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece is one of those ‘big’ books that I’ve been looking forward to reading for a while. I always get a bit wary of reading a ‘big’ book because I don’t know how I’ll feel about it and whether it will live up to the hype.
Ten year old Jamie lives with his sister, Jas, and his Dad. And his other sister, Rose, who is dead and lives on the mantelpiece in an urn. Rose died in a terrorist attack in London. And now, five years after it happened – Dad drinks, and Mum left them. Upon the move to a new school, Jamie begins to question his life, try to figure out what’s going on with his family and try to make sense of his loss.
I think, and please do correct me I’m wrong, that this is one of the few books dealing specifically with London bombs and terrorism in England. The incident that killed Rose is not the July 7th bombings but the parallels are unescapable and as such this book may require some sensitivity if being used with families / individuals affected by the events.
Jamie tells his story in a lovely, honest manner. His voice is so engaging that it’s hard not to fall in love with him. I felt the front cover of the edition I read (9781445886831) was perhaps a little self-consciously winsome but this was cancelled out by the book trailer I found on Youtube. I have a lot of issues with book trailers usually but found this one really good and nicely put together.
Pitcher deals gently with a difficult subject. I found some of the adult characters a little thinly drawn but, bearing in mind that this is written from Jamie’s perspective, it’s more than understandable. I loved how his relationship with Jas was presented, and I did cry at the ending. Very much.
My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece is one of those books that, irrespective of all the hype, you shouldn’t be afraid of. It’s a heartfelt and sympathetic look at racism, death and the strong heart that binds families together even when it all looks to be going wrong.